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Janice in NJ

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About Janice in NJ

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  1. Hi to All! Catching up on email this morning and saw this in my inbox due to an old hit to the Subscribe button. I agree with Karen and Ruth; however, my philosophy was a mix of self-directed and horse-to-water coupled with a bit of shove the horse's face into the water till it drinks (when necessary). All three of my kids are grown; our youngest is in grad school. In fact, he is a perfect example of how this worked. He is working on his Master's in Organ Performance at Rice University. His day in high school started with travel to a nearby church with an instrument and then two hours of bench time. Later in the day, there was two hours of piano practice here at home. This boy was very motivated and self-directed when it came to music. Writing? Not as much. The sputtering horse fighting at the trough is a better image. But I did get a call this fall where he thanked me for forcing him to learn to write. One of the classes he took this fall focused on learning to write/speak about music - a good performer need to be able to write and speak publicly about the music he performs. One of the texts was Strunk and White. "Mom, Thank You." He earned all A's this semester - including the writing class. He mentioned that class participation was part of the grade. I asked him if he participated. "Yes, Mom. By the end of the semester, the prof would ask a question with the caveat that someone else should answer." One of the exercises was to rewrite a published article to make it more concise without losing the tone of the piece - hmmm... ever been asked to do that before? When the prof returned his paper, he commented that ds made some revisions that were better than the prof's. This boy would not have gone through Strunk n White, and he would not have practiced writing and then re-writing and then re-writing again if the momma hadn't forced the issue. Now clearly this is NOT what landed him where he is today. THAT was ALL him. The Organ Dept at the Shepherd School isn't interested in writers who dabble at the keyboard. But he can hold his own when it comes to all the other bits because the momma selectively chose the things that were needed: time spent reading, thinking, and writing. Coupled with arithmetic and then math to build the rest of the neural net. And then PLENTY of time to pursue their passions. (Think machete to eliminate the unnecessary and then the self-control to ignore it as I read about all the wonderful things that the rest of you were offering your kids.. psst... not sure this boy has ever read one work of Russian literature - I can check, but I don't think there is one.) None of my kids ever took an AP test; we have a very nice community college with a well-respected honors program within 2 miles of the house. It got them out of the house, taught them how to meet someone else's deadlines, gave them the confidence they needed to face something new, and earned them credits (some, not all) that transferred to their 4-yr institutions. But even those classes didn't interrupt bench-time for this kid. That was always first. A gamble? Yes. Tough to do. But it has paid off. He is happy and thriving. And the others are as well. Peace, Janice Enjoy your Little People Enjoy your Journey
  2. Yes. A wonderful place. He has had a fantastic four years there. Hope things work out for your daughter! Peace, Janie
  3. Hi Sue, It's odd. I'm convinced it's an auditory thing with him. My parents have a piano that is ridiculously out of tune, and he has trouble playing it. In general if you take the black dots/lines away from him, his playing shifts. Everything opens up just a tad. All those years playing violin in an orchestra and listening to orchestras like the one at the Met take over. I think that's part of the reason he loves the organ so much - you have four limbs and TONS of orchestral-like options. What do you want people to hear and when and how? And can you pull it off? You choose the bank of pipes you want - and then you try to deliver the line so that it nests well within the other voices you have chosen. You take a discrete set of pipes and try to create the illusion of a continuous musical line - lots of them - all at the same time. And of course, when you are there and he is pointing out this this light, gentle musical idea that he has sent bouncing off the walls or the room is shaking because of the 16 footer, you can't help but appreciate the craftsmanship of the organ builder, the composer, and the musician. Figuring out that being a part of that was this kid's thing took a while. And I am convinced that when he stops trying to see the music with his eyes, he hears it more clearly with his ears. Because in the end, those dots are just a contrived representation. Just as Plato was stuck trying to use words that he then turned into squiggles to convey what he was trying to think, Widor was stuck using a similar system to convey what he was thinking/hearing to a person in a different place/century. And right now that is the thing that this kid most enjoys thinking about. It really was one of the joys of homeschooling to be able to work with my three little people for years - trying to black-box each of them: Who are they? How do they take in/process/spit-out information and ideas? What kind of information resonates within their box? How does it change after being in there? What do they like? What do they hate? Can we ignore the hates and cultivate the likes or will that hamper them later on? Where is the balance that will help them see what they need to do to become happy, healthy, contributing people in the world where they find themselves. How do they need to fill/clean out/reshape the black-box that is their own headspace in order to be their best self? I remember reading an anecdote offered up by a Columbia University Professor in defense of their Great-Books-required-curriculum. The gist of the argument was that each of us spends our entire lives stuck inside our own heads. That place is one of the few things that is really our own - I am alone in here - and it's all mine! So we owe it to our ourselves to make it the most interesting place it can be. That really stuck with me. This is this kid's jam for now. Who knows what will happen as he paddles along in the pond he has found. He has started reading philosophy. "Mom, you have talked about this stuff my whole life. I didn't really get it till now." He is 21. What fun! Rock on! Peace! Janice in NJ Enjoy your little people Enjoy your journey
  4. Hi All, I'm a bit late to the party with the wrap-up; DS made his decision about a month ago. This fall he is headed to the Rice University's Shepherd School of Music to pursue a Masters in Organ Performance. Full ride, and it looks like he will be slipping into a pretty decent part time position at one of the churches in Houston. He is over the moon, and we are pretty psyched for him. The lad played in chapel last week. The board of the AGO (American Guild of Organists) was on campus for a special event, so the faculty asked him to close the service that morning. It's a long piece - starts @ 19:40, if you just want to get right to the ripping part, try 26:20. https://www.stolaf.edu/multimedia/play/?c=2979 Graduation. Then off to Germany and France to play some organs. AGO convention in July. Then on to Houston. Last kid. Done parenting. Now we just enjoy their company. Dh is doing well. Happy at work @ the Metropolitan Opera - among other things, he just joined the Grammy Board - he is lucky to have such a cool job and I am lucky to enjoy some great opera once in a while. He starting riding a race bike recently for fun - 100+ miles in one ride is not uncommon. Plays in a band. Happy guy and the love of my life. In January, I started a new job with BAE Systems. I work with all electrical and mechanical engineers (I earned by BS in electrical back in '89). I have found my tribe and am having fun every day. So I guess I can say that this whole homeschooling thing worked out. Really well. I started this project in 1999 and nearly 20 years later, I consider this last child's graduation from college to be the final loose end. Done. WooHoo! Rock on, folks - it's ridiculously worth the effort! Peace, Janice Enjoy your little people Enjoy your journey P.S. Follow up a couple of weeks later: the lad played the piece with St. Olaf's orchestra this past Mother's Day. What a wonderful day!
  5. This is FANTASTIC, Gwen! Congratulations! My guy finished his last audition this past weekend. Now, he waits. Fingers crossed for that funded/stipend combo here as well! Boy, do we need it. LOL! Once again - please pass my congratulations along to her! WooHoo!! Peace, Janice Enjoy your little people Enjoy your journey
  6. No. St Olaf operates on a fall-interim-spring calendar. The interim semester last for a month (January). Students use the time to take one time-intensive (typically inter-disciplinary) class, and many students use at least one of their interim sessions to do this abroad. More here: https://stolafadmissions.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/interim-classes-on-campus/ This year, interim ended on January 30th, and the choir left for tour the following day. The spring semester began on Thursday, February 8th, and the choir students returned to campus late in the day on Tuesday, February 13th. They usually miss an entire week of class; this year, it was less. Because of this interim set-up, their spring semester ends a bit later than other colleges. Commencement is on Sunday, May 27th this year. So there is a trade-off with the interim set-up when it comes to summer jobs and internships; however, in general I think it's a pretty good system. Most students take four classes each in the fall and spring and then the one interim class. So 9 classes a year at one credit each for a total of 36 classes/credits. Because of interim, students get a break from running from thing to thing and have the opportunity to focus during January. It might seem like a minor shift, but that zoom-in/pan-out way of thinking about the world is a good exercise. And I suspect this set-up is the reason so many of their students are able to say they studied abroad. One month away from campus is easier to swing financially and in terms of checking all the boxes when it comes to completing your major on time at a liberal arts college. Disclosure: because ds joined the choir his sophomore year and because the choir has an intense ramp-up to tour rehearsal schedule during the interim semester, ds never studied abroad during interim. However, he did have the opportunity to travel with the choir to perform/tour for ten days(?) last June in Japan and South Korea. Fantastic. Here is a link to a video recorded by a church in South Korea. Being a part of a huge worship service on the peninsula last June with everything else that was going on at the time in politics - this - this moment in time - was one of the most significant moments in this kid's life so far. My DS will probably never see any of these people again for the rest of his life, but during this time, within this set of <x,y,z,t> coordinates, they shared something. Music and worship have a significant meaning for this person. So this kind of experience at this point in his life meant so much. And I think helping students find those kinds of events - and they are all wildly different - really, not all students are even looking for a spiritual experience, and the college respects that - helping students experience something significant that helps shape their purpose in life is one of the things the school cares about very deeply. (10 minutes in) Regarding this week of missed classes for Ole Choir Students: Sure, I raised an eyebrow the first time this came up. However, first of all my son is a music major so it wasn't that much of a leap; and second, being a part of this group has had a huge, positive influence on him. Huge! Working with other students of this caliber has done much to make him who he is. And don't misunderstand me - I'm not simply referring to their musical caliber; they are thoughtful, engaging, intellectual young people. What a tribe! Last year my dh and I flew out and spent a couple of days in town visiting folks we know in the area, wandering around on campus, and attending ds's junior recital. This phenomenon of clustering purposeful young people in positive directions is repeated elsewhere throughout the college. The place is filled with intelligent people doing thoughtful things. There is a reason the school made it into Loren Pope's book. I know this sounds like an ad, but there is a reason that Ole's are so passionate about the hill. A special place. Peace, Janice in NJ Enjoy your little people Enjoy your journey
  7. Good Morning, More music from the lad (younger DS). The St Olaf Choir finished their West Coast Tour with their usual February Home-Concert in Boe Chapel. DS (music major - organ performance) is the bass section leader so he was asked to be a part of the recorded intermission interview. He also accompanies a couple of pieces. In a couple of our conversations this fall and winter, we have talked about students handling their schedules. Here are the fruits of the boy doing something that he not only receives no credit for but also isn't directly tied to his major. Tangentially tied, of course - singing, conducting, running sectional rehearsals, accompanying - all good things for an organist - but his major is actually ONLY organ performance - notice the lack of organ anywhere. Ironically, he dropped the extra church music major so he could focus on the bench. Hmmm...it's as if a bio major was working in a chem lab for 10+ hours a week all year on the side - while ALSO STILL focusing on his work in the bio lab. Anyway - this activity takes up a TON of time every week - and it has absolutely NO bearing on his GPA. CRICKETS! But if you appreciate music, I'm sure you will agree that it's time well spent. How can you NOT do it!!??!! No regrets; life is grand! Happy Times To Be Sure! Peace, Janice Enjoy your little people Enjoy your journey https://www.stolaf.edu/multimedia/play/?e=2077
  8. Good Morning, Every Aug and every January, I made/make my college students mock up a sample schedule. Classes - in one color Study time - in another. Two hours outside class for every hour of class. Intelligently placed. Class on a Monday @ 10 AM? It is probably good if you can hit your first study-block within a couple of hours of that. (To review your notes. Write 4-5 sentences that summarize what the lecture was about. Start homework or reading/notes for next lecture) And when planning your study-schedule, pay attention to office hours. Plan your schedule with the intent of using office hours or TA hours.) Side note: Shortly after the lecture is the best place for lecture-summary-time: Did the prof argue a point? Thesis? Support? Counter-arguments? Did the prof prove a theorem? What was it? Did he spend most of the class on that ONE theorem? Then it's probably significant. :-) Was there ANYTHING from the lecture that still doesn't make sense? Make a list. Check office hours. Schedule a visit on your calendar. Back to the schedule: Meals/Laundry/Correspondence time daily (email etc) - Put this stuff on the schedule Clubs/activities? On there! Do you like to stare at the TV? Put it on the schedule (helps them to see how they are spending their blocks) THEN - sit and look at your plan. This is always an eye opener. No matter how many times you do it! IT LOOKS FULL BECAUSE IT IS FULL! This is impossible!?! Gasping! Heavy sighs! All that - 50 hours of WORK is a LOT OF WORK! I put this in bold because it is always a shock. BUT it put them in the right frame of mind regarding the pacing of their days. If they are approaching their week with a come-what-may attitude, they are going to be drowning by mid-terms. If they adjust their pacing to accommodate reality from the beginning, things go much more smoothly. They adapt and they sail on through to finals. They are working to be sure, but they aren't bewildered about how much they should be working. And the schedule is the best inoculation against angst and panic. Really. Everyone has access to a calendar program. This isn't a mental exercise, it's an actual one. Make 'em draw in the blocks. Color code 'em. And then LOOK at it! :001_smile: Then - this final piece. This makes all the difference when done well: Reflect on the past week/Plan for next week - a short block for checking your pacing and your weekly plan (30 mins?). How are you doing? How is the schedule working? Do you need to move things around? Now, think about the week ahead: how should you be using your blocks? Big test coming up? Plan the detail for your study blocks: what exactly should you be doing and when? For EVERY block. That way when you look at your schedule and see Tuesday: 11 AM - it already sets a clear objective for that hour. "Problem set 27" or "Read and Summarize Chapter 18" or "Prepare Study Guide for Chapter 27" A clear goal. (And keep in mind, I always told my kids that a 1-hour block is 50 minutes of work and then 10 minutes of getting a coffee/going to the bathroom/checking your phone. A break. Then back to it - to work - uninterrupted.) The calendar with clear objectives designed on a weekly basis for each hour. My single biggest piece of good advice. Peace, Janice Enjoy your little people Enjoy your journey
  9. Thanks so much for all the kind words. You guys are the BEST! While I used to be around daily, I pop in probably at least once every couple of weeks to see what everyone's kids are up to. I really do miss being in the thick of it all with all of you. You guys really made the difference for me. Hope everyone has a great day! Peace, Janice Enjoy your little people Enjoy your journey
  10. Thank you so much to everyone for the kind words. You all are the best! Every couple of years there are a batch of us with kids moving on to the next thing - four years ago it was trying to make the decision about where he should go as an undergrad. And now he is casting about trying to figure out where he should go to start his graduate work. I was a part of the day-to-day four years ago; it can be hectic - trying to juggle all of the current responsibilities with the added pressure and WORK (and money!) associated with applying to school. And then the waiting... and then the decision-making. Well, we are there again. Right now he is still in the work (and money-spending phase of traveling to audition) phase. Some auditions are done; others are not. So for this to happen at this particular point in time is GOLD. When I worked with my kids and other people's kids on the undergrad app process, I tried to frame this in terms of a positive thing rather than an anxious one. During this time, you have the pleasure of collecting/reflecting and then projecting. The collecting part is taking time to pause and think about the last few years. Usually that means starting with a resume. It's the easiest way to start to MOVE them away from this idea that they are somehow a set of numbers. They are not. They are more than a collection of numbers; their accomplishments can not be summed up with 4-5 numbers. What makes you you? How do you spend your time? What do you value? What are your passions and interests? What do you want other people to know about you? Teach them that life has landing pads where you pause, collect, and reflect. Then you project. What do you WANT to do next. In four or five years, if you engaged in the exact, same process, what might that look like? If you could choose what you would be thinking about? If you could make life happen the way you wanted it to, what would *that* be? All done with the understanding that we don't actually have the power to control everything (or sometimes anything) and of course with the complete humility that we are not actually even a sum of our accomplishments. We are people. Valuable, important human souls. Sometimes things work out and sometimes they don't. Our value stands apart from what we do. THAT is always a thing! But, just for the sake of having some kind of goal - as an exercise - what would you like to be thinking about and collecting/reflecting about in four years.... Anyway - I am happy to report that this kid is working hard and enjoying it. And for this to come at this exact moment? It's just really nice. So sometimes things work out. Who knows what is next? Who knows? But I am sending warm thoughts to all of you with children who are transitioning to the next thing. Because sometimes things are going well. And sometimes they are NOT. Transitions are like that. No matter what, my hope is that you can somehow enjoy the journey. All the Best! Peace, Janice Enjoy your little people Enjoy your journey
  11. This is our younger son, a senior undergrad. Two pieces on this week's radio show. (Bolcom's What a Friend We Have in Jesus and Ferko's Mass for Dedication) They were both at the top of the second hour if you feel like checking them out. http://pipedreams.publicradio.org/listings/2018/1805/ Michael Barone will be interviewing him on the show after he plays this July at the AGO National Convention. Happy Times to be sure! Hope you have a nice night! Peace, Janice in NJ Enjoy your little people Enjoy your journey
  12. Hi! Chiming in with Gwen here. All applications have asked for a transcript; however, I suspect it's more of a sniff test. If you are seeking a Masters in Music Ed, most we have seen ask for a GRE, but it's not requested from performance majors. They do ask for a repertoire list with explanations - what was performed, etc. So if your student hasn't been tracking that, she should. Gwen mentioned a recording round prior to an audition. We have found that depends on the instrument. For example, piano and voice departments have asked for a recording; however, my student plays pipe organ, and the schools he has applied to haven't asked for a recording prior to the live audition. It is important to keep the resume in mind too. In the end, they are looking for strong players for performance programs; however, if your student needs money, it's important to keep an eye on that too. What kinds of jobs are available for grad students? TA for theory classes. Accompanying. Teaching lessons. Etc. In addition to focusing on performance, Ds has tried to gain as much experience as an undergrad in the areas that will make him competitive when it comes to getting the funding he is going to need in grad school - in terms of skill set and leadership experience. In his profession, there is also money to be made in off-campus churches. So for my kid, he has focused on building his resume in three areas: 1. Performance - competitions and recital experience 2. Departmental employment - teaching assistant for theory classes; accompanying for recitals, studio classes (sight reading), and department choirs; singer/section leader in a touring choir (as a section leader, he runs sectional rehearsals) 3. Off campus work: Organ Scholar experience all four years of undergrad His resume has these sections: Music Awards: list of competitions/scholarships won Education: Degree info Solo Recitals: List Experience: Employment and volunteer work in college that make him departmentally employable in grad school Music Activities: The catch all (For example, he has taken voice lessons all four years. He took time this past fall to travel to another state to attend an organ improvisation conference on his own. Etc) I hope that helps. Momma brag here: as a winner in the AGO/Quimby Regional Competition last year, the lad will be playing this summer at the Organ Guild's national convention as one of their "Rising Stars." The program will be offered on Michael Barone's Pipedreams Live Radio broadcast. Should be fun! Peace, Janice Enjoy your little people Enjoy your journey P.S. Editing here. Note: if you look at what Ds has focused on, you will notice the DISTINCT absence of classes/grades. Yes, he needed to get decent grades for the past four years; however, for what he is planning to do, the difference between all A's and having a couple of B's thrown isn't a big difference. For example, A's within his department/major are important, but I suspect no one cares a bit if he earned B's in his gen ed classes. BUT if he had no experience as a theory TA? I'm sure that would be a strike against him. Keep in mind, he received NO academic credit for doing that - for multiple semesters - a VERY time consuming job. His off campus job also consumes a ton of his time as does the touring choir he participates in as a volunteer. (They rehearse for 7.5 hours a week - and that doesn't include the section leader mtgs with the conductor and the prep for the rehearsals he runs. Nor does it include prep time when he is accompanying. But a fantastic experience - YouTube video linked below - it was taken during their international tour (Japan/South Korea) last summer. Ds is accompanying the choir.) Again - no mention of either on his transcript. Competitions on his performance instrument? An enormous time commitment! And relevant for his path - but again - not on the transcript. Said all that to say this: every kid's path is different. So it's important to help them roughly sketch it out and then fine-tune it as you go to help them get their priorities straight. TOUGH to do - because they are in an academic environment that focuses on grades. Which makes the transcript seem like the most important thing. In Ds's case, his classes land almost dead last when it comes to where he is focusing his attention. Odd. Strange. But necessary. In Ds's particular case, the education he receives because of the environment tends to overshadow the education he gets in the classroom. (And I get it - the standard 2 hours outside of class for every hour in class. I have hammered that home since they started taking college classes while in high school. Bam. Bam. Bam over the head with that. However, if you map out this kid's schedule, it is literally impossible. Literally. There is no time left for the priority list. And if he skips that, he can't go where he wants to go. Hence - the priority list dictates the daily/weekly schedule.) Sue: I hear you about the recovering homeschooler part regarding the application process. However, from what I understand, this really is just standard parenting at this point. As in we aren't being helicopter homeschoolers - the "regular" parents are a part of the grad school process to some extent. :-) Kids have to those preliminary conversations with someone about what they want and how they are going to pursue it. No paid person is going to take the time to hash all of this out with them in the preliminary rounds. Once they have a rough draft, then I send them to go talk to the mentors/pros who are paid to help/advise them. Otherwise, the kid ends up being the dog at the new pan - wasting everyone's time because they just don't know how to approach this stuff. WAY less involvement then I had during the undergrad app process - night and day - but still needed to be there on some level. Hope everyone has a great weekend! Rock on! Scroll 9:55 minutes in for accompanying clip. It was toward the end of the tour; you can see how exhausted but happy they all are.
  13. ... before you start counting on having the extra cash laying around... Our boys needed extra money for food in college. Until they reached about 22/23 years of age, the boys ate more than 3 squares a day. Younger son (20) is in his senior year of undergrad, and the dining hall is closed by 7:30 PM. He tends to eat his last meal of the day between 10 PM and Midnight. So some of the money saved from our food budget here at home gets shoveled in his direction. Peace, Janice Enjoy your little people Enjoy your journey
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